Rosamond Gifford Zoo

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North American Wood Duck

Aix sponsa

Wood ducks are migratory birds mostly occurring on the west coast and eastern half of the United State, and southern portions of Canada. It has also been introduced to some Western European countries.

Range & Habitat

Quiet undisturbed creeks, rivers, floodplains, lakes, wooded swamps, and beaver ponds in North America.

Conservation Status: Least Concern

Least Concern; Wood ducks are not globally threatened. They have recovered from near extinction in the early 1900s caused by over-hunting and loss of habitat.


In the Wild: acorns, nuts, seeds, aquatic plants, aquatic and terrestrial invertebrates, berries and grains.

At the Zoo: waterfowl grain-based mix.

Life Span

In the Wild – 3-4 years
In Human Care – up to 20 years.

Fun Facts about the North American Wood Duck

  •  Many consider the male wood duck in contrasting colored breeding plumage to be the most beautiful North American duck.
  •  When on the water, the wood duck sits high with its tail angled upward. On land, it walks or runs with greater ease than most ducks, and frequently perches and nests in trees. Their feet are specially adapted with sharp nails for perching.
  •  Other common names for wood ducks are woody, acorn duck, swamp duck or squealer.
  •  If you see wood ducks on our waterfowl pond that are not banded, they are wild ducks that hang out at the zoo for the free food!


Alabama Game and Fish Division, (2002). Wood duck (Aix sponsa). Retrieved November 23, 2005, from Alabama Game and Fish Division Web site:

Hepp, G., & Bellrose, F. (1995). The birds of north america. Philadelphia: The Academy of Natural Sciences.

Leopold, S., Gutierrez, R., & Bronson, M. (1981). North american game birds and mammals. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons.

Sousa, P., & Farmer, A. (1983). Habitat suitability index models: wood duck. Washington: Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service.

Updated June 13, 2023
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